It’s August and I have yet to post anything about my new life as a mom. Eight weeks ago I gave birth to our son Levi and things have been a whirlwind since! He is a perfect, precious baby and the love I have for him is so immense. Each day that goes by holds new discoveries for both of us and he is growing up before my eyes so quickly. All my time is consumed by him – either changing diapers, holding him, pumping milk, or feeding and burping him. There are days where I literally don’t get to brush my teeth or get a shower until Tim makes it home from work in the evening and goes on daddy duty. How anyone gets anything productive done with a newborn is beyond me! It’s all in the name of motherly love and I don’t mind if the house isn’t spic and span – I’ll only have this uninterrupted time to spend with him once and I mean to enjoy it while I can before I have to go back to work in September.
I was 38 weeks along in my pregnancy and not expecting Levi to come for a few weeks. It was Friday, June 7th and Tim and I had planned to finish our baby shopping and pack my hospital bag that weekend. I was at work and had just completed a collaborative work session with my coworkers. I had been feeling some discomfort and pressure in my pelvis late that afternoon but shrugged it off as gas. I was joined in a casual conversation with a few folks when I felt a gush of liquid coming from between my legs, as if I was peeing myself without any control over my own bladder. I quickly rushed to the restroom before anyone took notice. It took a second for me to realize while I was in the bathroom that this was my water breaking. I was in shock and not sure what exactly to do. I remember thinking over and over again that he’s not supposed to come for another two weeks!
I got myself together and went back out to let them know that my water had just broken. My coworkers were excited for me and more than happy to help guide me back to my office to get my stuff together. I’m glad that they were there to help because I felt dazed and in disbelief, not at all in control my bearings. They instructed me to call Tim and let him know my water had broken so I did. He asked me if I was kidding and I assured him I wasn’t. I had him call my OBGYN office to get in touch with me, gathered my laptop and other belongings and went out to my car to head home. All the while there is this continuous gushing of fluid from my vagina – not at all a comfortable feeling.
My OBGYN office called as I was driving home. They said to go ahead and make my way to the hospital. That confirmed in that instant that my son was on his way and would be born that very weekend – I was excited! When I made it home, Tim was already packing his bag and getting the infant carrier out. I threw my bag together in a whirlwind! I figured I had everything I needed – clothing, toiletries, camera, chargers, baby book, and a coming home outfit for Levi. I realized later that although I had my camera, I was missing my SD card! Luckily, Tim’s parents were able to get one for us on their way in from Chattanooga.
We made it to the hospital and were admitted to the labor and delivery unit after verification that my water had indeed broken. It was just after 5:30 pm and I hadn’t yet begun to feel any contractions, though I was having very tiny ones. They had me hooked up to the monitors and all looked great for Levi’s vitals. I decided that it might be best to walk around the halls to get my contractions going since things were going very slowly. I could hear one woman outside her room door in agonizing pain giving birth which only made me more anxious for what I was about to to go through myself.
My doctor was on call that night through the next morning. Given that my water had already broken, there is a window of about 24 hours that they allow before considering other birth options so that infection doesn’t occur at the opening of the cervix. She recommended I start taking pitocin to make my contractions stronger and begin effacing and dilating my cervix. I decided to do that going on 8 pm.
Tim’s family stopped in to visit us after making it up from Chattanooga. We told them it wasn’t likely that he would be born that night and that they should go ahead on to their hotel. They were excited and anxious for Levi to arrive, as were we. As night came on, Tim and I tried to get some sleep (as much as one can in a hospital room with a nurse coming in every hour or so to check mine and the baby’s vitals). By midnight, I was finally feeling contractions and having to use breathing exercises to make it through each painful one. I managed to tolerate them up until 4 am on Saturday, at which point I was ready for an epidural.
I made it through the epidural like a champ, though shortly after they gave it to me I began to feel light headed and nauseated as if I were going to pass out. My blood pressure dropped really low. They put me on oxygen and gave me some meds to bring my BP back up. I finally began feeling numb and could no longer feel the pain of my contractions. Surprisingly, the contractions I was feeling were only pre-labor contractions and nowhere near as painful as ones you have during actual labor. I was doubly glad for the epidural at that point cause I had already reached my pain tolerance.
Saturday morning, my doctor was no longer on call and another doctor from a partner practice whom I had never met before was on duty. He came in and checked my cervix and I was about 85% effaced and 2 cm dilated. I thought “Really!?! All that pitocin and pain and still not even halfway dilated?!!” We continued to wait patiently throughout the day, receiving another visit from Tim’s family and then catching some shut eye. Tim did his job of making sure I got lots of liquids. At noon, it had been about 24 hours since I had last eaten. I was hungry when I arrived at the hospital the night before, so you can imagine I was pretty hungry at that point but wasn’t allowed to eat anything but jello, frozen popsicles and chicken broth (like the kind used for ramen noodles). The doctor came in to check my cervix again and I had dilated to 3 cm.
They determined that Levi was head down in my womb but not positioned to face my rear, the most ideal position for exiting the womb. Every hour or so I had to reposition from one side to the other, first to rock Levi back and forth to get him to turn, and second to keep the epidural dissipated evenly on both sides of my spine. One disadvantage with having an epidural is that you are bedridden but a nice advantage is that you no longer have to get up to go the bathroom or even really feel the urge to go to the bathroom. The nurse had to come in every few hours to insert a catheter and express my bladder. If you’re modest like me, this can be embarrassing but somehow when you’re about to have a baby, all your modesty kind of goes out the window.
They checked my cervix again a couple hours later where I had progressed to 4 cm. A few hours later I was still at 4 cm. The fear was setting in that I might have to go under the knife and have a cesarean, the last option I wanted to go with. It was going on 6 pm in the afternoon – more than 24 hours since my water had broken. The doctor seemed concerned but I told him my birth plan was to ideally give birth vaginally. He said he’d check me again in a few more hours but that if I continued to stay stagnant in my dilation, cesarean might have to be a consideration. That had me worried but my ultimate goal was to bring Levi into the world healthily and if cesarean was what was needed, I’d have to accept that.
A little while later I began feeling my contractions again, dull at first but seemingly stronger time after time. I called the nurse station and let them know my epidural was wearing off. The anesthesiologist came by and upped my dosage which dulled the pain again, but only temporarily. Again, I began to have the feeling of nausea and being lightheaded and my blood pressure began to drop. I began throwing up and the nurse worked to get me stabilized again. Shortly after, I once again stable but shivering from the meds. The doctor came in and checked my cervix and found that I was fully dilated. I couldn’t believe it! I was happy for that news but I was feeling extremely weakened at that point from not having eaten, lack of sleep, and struggling from the epidural medicine. In that moment I would have welcomed a cesarean because I didn’t feel I had the energy to push out a baby. That thought quickly passed and I was being prepped to begin pushing.
Laying in the bed, with Tim standing to my left and my legs lifted up in the stirrups, I braced my knees, tucked my chin in my chest, and bared down and pushed for two ten second intervals during each contraction. A few pushes in I was already out of breath. I would just about catch my breath when it was time to push again. I could feel the pressure of him coming down but never really felt any pain. At one interval I began to feel sick and had to vomit, then it was back to pushing. I was exhausted but knew the outcome and kept giving it every ounce of energy I could. An hour into pushing I could tell it was getting close to culminating because the doctor was enthusiastically cheering me on. He even had me reach down to feel Levi’s head, which motivated me to keep going despite all doubt. Finally, at 9:17 pm on June 8th, and with one last push, Levi was pulled out and placed on my chest where he gave a big wailing cry.
I was physically and emotionally exhausted but that all melted away when I first placed eyes on him. He was beautiful and perfect with ten tiny fingers and toes. Tim got to cut his umbilical cord and they took him across the room to weigh and measure him. I was in such a state of elation that I barely noticed passing the afterbirth and being stitched up from tearing when he came out. They wrapped him up in a blanket and brought him back to me where we got our first family photo taken. It was an incredibly happy time for us. We were happy to share his arrival with Tim’s family who finally were grandparents and great-grandparents.
Levi Aaron White born June 8, 2013, 8 lbs and 20 inches long
Levi has brought such joy to our family that its hard to imagine what life was like before he arrived. Even with all the sleepless nights and roller coaster emotions of post partum, I would absolutely do it all again to have an angel like him around.